What a fabulous season we have had!
- our Junior AGM will take place this evening: Wednesday 3rd July from 7:30pm at the clubhouse. Invitations have been sent to all Junior Members.
I thought I would take this opportunity to update you on this last season and to thank you all for your help and support throughout the year.
This season our player numbers have continued to grow and our sporting achievements have been the best ever. Our volunteer base is now huge with over 300 adults giving up their time to help run the club. On and off the pitch we are thriving as a community club and I am hugely grateful to all our players, parents and volunteers for their commitment to Ironsides Rugby.
We pride ourselves on being the friendliest of clubs and with a firm commitment to inclusivity and diversity as well as the RFU core values which we have always instinctively followed.
This season we have been privileged to celebrate the rugby club’s 75th anniversary. The club enjoyed a fabulous evening at Twickenham in April with 500 members and guests, which you can read all about on our website. We look to the future of this club with great enthusiasm. But we will always remember our past which originated in the Royal Tank Regiment in 1943 and all those players and volunteers who preceded us and contributed to this hugely successful club.
This season our Seniors Chair has reconnected with many of our former players who have been delighted to re-engage with the club sometimes after many years and attend our pre-match lunches and provide support to our senior teams. Many are astonished at the size of the club they helped to build.
Our Seniors have had a brilliant season. Our 1st XV have been promoted to London 2 South West and our 2nd XV are promoted into the Surrey Premiership having also won the Surrey Chairman’s Tankard.
Our 3rd XV reached League Final as did our amazing Vets team who fielded over 60 players through the season. The 4th XV and 5th XV had excellent seasons finishing in their league top half and demonstrating an incredible depth of players of quality and commitment throughout our Seniors.
Our Ladies have grown in numbers substantially this season and are now able sufficient to field two regular 15 a side teams. Their achievements this year include winning the Surrey Vase. As we report here, our Ladies have a number of representative honours this season including 7 having played at County level for Surrey and 2 for Middlesex. In addition Kirsty Clarke, Sam Bedford and Sarah Jackson all represented Great Britain at Tag Rugby.
A full round up from the Seniors section is on our website here, linking to “Season Wraps” on each of our eight Senior Men’s, Vets’ and Ladies’ teams.
Our Junior section comprising both Minis and Youth now number nearly 1200 players and when combined with our Seniors we number about 1500 players in total and we are probably the largest amateur rugby club in the country.
Our Junior section runs from u5s to u18s with flourishing numbers in each age group. Many of our age groups excel against opposition and most compete against the very best of the Surrey clubs and in some cases travel much further for matches against teams of a similar calibre.
Our Youth age groups have once again enjoyed the challenge of competitive tournament rugby in the Surrey Waterfall Cup Competitions this season, resulting in an impressive haul of silverware! There is a full round up from the final round on our website here and a match report from the Colts’ thrilling final game against Farnham here.
Special congratulations go to our U13s who managed the amazing achievement of winning all three Surrey Waterfall Cup Tournaments they entered: our A Team brought home the President’s Cup and were crowned overall county champions of Surrey, while our B Team clinched the Treasurer’s Cup, and our C Team won the Secretary’s Cup. You can read a full report of their Cup Final and the latest of our Age Group Focus news articles here.
Our Girls Youth meanwhile has grown from just two girls at the start of the season to fielding a full U13 team in competitive tournaments – as reported here. We hope to build on this in seasons to come to ensure that girls who have enjoyed playing mini rugby here at Ironsides can continue to develop and enjoy the game at from U12 onwards.
This season we have had successful Youth tours in the U15, U14 and U13 age groups – with the latter travelling overseas for the first time. You can read all about the U13s’ tour to Lyon here.
Of course a highlight of our 75th Anniversary celebrations was the huge Minis Tour to Minehead with over 500 of our young players and volunteers who had a fabulous weekend of rugby and fun. Featuring teams from U7 to U12 and including a huge party hosted by Minehead Barbarians RFC at their clubhouse on the Saturday night – this was a great success. Our tourists proved to be excellent ambassadors for the club and rugby generally demonstrating teamwork and sportsmanship on the pitch and enjoyment off the field.
We have now posted photos and a video of the Mini’s Minehead Tour on the website here - for those of you who want to relive the excitement of a fabulous sunny weekend by the sea. We are optimistically waiting to have confirmation that we have broken the Guinness World Record for the World’s biggest rugby tour! We would like to say a big thank you to our sponsors, in particular our primary partner Rampton Baseley Estate Agents, and IG, who sponsored our Minis Tour to Minehead and our U13 Tour to Lyon.
We continually work towards improving our facilities both in terms of playing space and equipment. This season we saw the final completion and opening of the All Weather Pitch which is a magnificent addition to our playing space. We have new storage containers closeby along with a new and relocated Kit shop. We have now signed the lease on the old dilapidated Scout Hut down at Garratt Lane and are in the process of undertaking improvements to this. We have bought a large amount coaching and other equipment this season as well a new Scrum Machine. A massive thank you to all those who organised and volunteered for the recent Club Maintenance Weekend. I’m sure you will agree from the photos now up on the website here, the clubhouse is looking amazing ready for next season.
We continue to invest in our volunteers organising large numbers of courses including coaching, first aid and refereeing for which the club currently pays. We hugely value our volunteers so it is great to see recognition outside of the club. This season these include Rachel Denning who was awarded Wandsworth Volunteer of the Year, Anthony Legge commended by the regional RFU coaching team and invited to a volunteers’ award lunch at Twickenham with the RFU President. Recently Roisin Dunstall has been nominated and also invited to Twickenham as part of the Mitsubishi Volunteer Award scheme for her work developing Girls Rugby at Ironsides.
We were delighted also that former Youth Player Kyle Sinckler of Harlequins, England and the British Lions was awarded Wandsworth Sports Personality of the Year. The Club as a whole was shortlisted in the Club of the Year category.
The Minis’ End of Season Fun Day in May was another huge event for the club with over 500 in attendance and with much support from our Senior and Youth players. Photos from the Fun Day are now on the website here. The Youth age groups also enjoyed their End of Season Party, and for the first time our Colts (U17 and U18) enjoyed a Graduation Dinner for those completing their U18 season – featured on our website here.
Throughout the year we work hard to arrange social events and this season these included volunteer BBQs, Quiz nights, Halloween Party, Christmas Parties, Easter hat competition, Senior’s Christmas dinner, pre match former player lunches, a number of end of season age group events, the Big Game at Twickenham, 6 nations and other important games shown at the clubhouse, mixed baseball games and so on.
Please check the website for such events. Our website is constantly being updated and is a great source of news and events as well as lots of club information and photos. We continually look for ways of developing communications within the club and this season we have started an electronic newsletter to go out to all our members to spread news and our successes across the whole club.
As we continue to reach out to our community we are delighted to maintain and develop our support of charities and this season we are pleased to connect with 3 Pillars Project which runs sports based mentoring to young people vulnerable to crime. Our existing charities are firstly the Tag Rugby Trust who use team sport to develop the lives of young people in developing countries throughout the world Some of our youth players travelled to assist the Trust to Zambia in 2017 and we are currently planning a second tour with the charity also to Zambia in 2020. Our third charity remains St Georges Hospital who we are privileged to have supported for many years. A news report on our Charity contributions presented at this year’s Minis Fun Day is on the website here.
An ambitious club of this size and complexity requires dedicated management and I am hugely grateful to all our volunteers who give up precious time to help actively run the whole club and who contribute such energy expertise and vision to drive the club forward and continually work to raise our standards. If you would like to get more involved as a volunteer please do get in touch – the more the merrier!
We are always very keen to hear from our members with suggestions, ideas and comments about how we can continue to improve the club. Please make contact with myself or any of our Section Chairs Colin O’Keeffe (Seniors), Alan Wilkins (Youth) and Dave Watson (Minis). Other contacts are on the website here.
To that end we would be really grateful if you would complete our Annual Members Survey to tell us about your experience of the 2018-19 season by clicking on this link. The survey is open to members of all age groups whether players, volunteers or parents and will really help us to understand where we need to focus our efforts as a club over the coming seasons. So please do take a few minutes to fill it in, and encourage others to do so.
Members of the club are also encouraged to attend the following Annual General Meetings of the Club:
- the Whole Club AGM will take place on 11th September at the clubhouse – please make a note of this date in your diaries.
We are fortunate in our location in South West London. However, I believe our success is much more to do with our reputation for being a friendly inclusive and diverse club, our unwavering adherence to the RFU core values of rugby, and our support of, and ambition for, every single one of our players. This season we have never played better as a club nor achieved so much success. We have never looked smarter in our fabulous kit, nor had so many excellent social events nor had as many players across the whole club nor so many brilliant volunteers.
Whilst we can celebrate this season’s success our management team have the commitment and energy to ensure we work hard towards building on this success next season and beyond.
Thank you to all of you who have made this a wonderful season and I hope you have a wonderful summer.